One of our readers contributes a tribute to the late (and legendary) Chuck Maddox. Some of the Speedmaster enthusiasts that have been around a bit longer already, have probably encountered Chuck Maddox on one of the forums or via his own website. In 2004, RJ published a multi-part interview with Chuck Maddox here on Fratello Watches. Later on, it has been republished in one complete article for your convenience. While it is already 14 years old, some of the topics discussed are still valid. You can find the complete interview with Chuck Maddox here. If you are not familiar with Chuck Maddox, who sadly passed away in 2008, he was one of the first Speedmaster (and chronographs in general) collectors who created an online archive with information. Besides his lengthy replies on TimeZone and WatchUseek in the late 1990s, he also started his own website packed with Speedmaster information. It is still available, as his friends ensured that these archives are still accessible. The website Chronomaddox still contains all of the Speedmaster and chronograph information he documented.
We are of course not the only ones that owe a lot to Chuck Maddox, some of our readers did as well and one of them likes to pay a tribute to him here.
Our reader Alex (who shall remain anonymous) contributed the following story for this article. Without further ado.
Tribute to Chuck Maddox
“My love affair with watches started as far in time as I can remember, but the shortage of funds made me wear nothing special for the major part of my life. Just to give you an idea, my first Swiss Made watch was a Swatch in the mid-1990s, but all that change in 2006, thanks to a major jump in my career. Nevertheless, I got seriously involved in this hobby by 2008. My main focus was – and is – Omega, maybe due I inherited a beautiful two-tone Constellation with ‘pie pan’ dial from 1956 that my father wore for a large part of his life.
Back then, the information about watches and specifically about Omega watches were limited to very few reliable sites like omega-addict.com form a young enthusiast and writer that maybe you heard before, Robert-Jan Broer (if you haven’t visited before, please don’t miss the RJ’s photo in the author section), and our beloved Fratello Watches was just 4 years old and growing. Other than that, you had to learn from the forums like TimeZone or WatchUseek. At that time, a small group of forum members became the mentors and spiritual guides of the poor lost souls searching for answers. It was then when I found a special forum member, a person who opened up to help anyone, no matter if it was a newbie or a hardcore collector. He was highly regarded by the other experts and most important (to me because I was looking for this type info) he had a huge knowledge and love for Omega’s chronographs. You guessed it already, it was Chuck Maddox.
I remember that I absorbed every post on the forums and his blog, that was in August 2008. I remember it well because I was shocked when I found out the great guy passed away in May of that year. This made me want to learn even more about his legacy, I read everything I could find on the web, I studied all of his reviews and posts. A task that was easier thanks to the lovely work of some on his closest friends that compiled and kept alive Chuck’s legacy in the form of Chronomaddox.com.
Chuck’s love for the Speedmaster family is evident, not only the famous Moonwatch but also the Mark evolutions. At the time, the Speedmaster Mark series was considered to be the ugly duck compared to the Speedmaster (pre-)Professional ‘Moonwatch’ by the collector’s community. This lack of interest was also reflected by the prices back then, which I saw as an opportunity to build a Mark’s collection. As a new collector, this gave me the chance to make some mistakes without breaking the bank. And more important, I saw my Mark collection as a tribute to Chuck Maddox.
The first member of my collection was the Omega Speedmaster Mark III ref 176.002, with a very uncommon colour configuration. It was something that I didn’t find in any of the posts from Chuck Maddox or anywhere else. It had a gold dial and light blue chapter ring. I got it from a large pawn shop, which lead me to the purchase of my first 1969’s Speedmaster Moonwatch from my previous story. After many years, I was able to get two additional Mark IIIs, all black and the one with a silver dial and blue chapter ring.
But for some reason, I never was able to find a blue/blue version in good condition and at the right price. Funny thing is that last year I found out that I was wrong all along. I did not have a rare gold dial Mark III, but a blue/blue one. Like the chocolate dial on the Moonwatch, where the black dial becomes dark brown due to specific conditions of light, humidity and time, some batches of blue dials fitted in Speedmaster Mark III turn into this gold colour. I also learned that this happens to some Seamasters, I guess due to the effect of the same three factors. Unlike the Moonwatch, the colour of the paint didn’t change, but the paint totally faded to reveal the metal surface. In the case of my Mark III, the paint perfectly disappeared, leaving no trace of blue, but leaving intact all the wording and marking (hours and minutes tracks).
Thanks to the attractive prices of the Mark series at that time and the large supply, I was able to complete the full series in 3 to 4 years through auctions sites and sales sections on forums. Up to the point that I bought some models that Chuck Maddox did not cover in his posts or on his website. I am convinced though, that his early death left us with an incomplete study on the vintage Omega Speedmasters. Those pieces missing in his collection that I got were neither very rare or unique, I am just lucky to have more time to get them.
To this date, I still often visit chronomaddox.com to refresh what I learned from him, as well as a yearly tradition of reading the fantastic interview done by Robert-Jan Broer, to me is a must-read for every watch aficionado, to learn and to pay tribute to a fellow collector, a kind person with a true passion for Speedmasters and chronographs in general. He was also the creator of nicknames that we still use, like “Teutonic Speedy” (ref. 1450040, 3450803 and 3760806), “Darth Vader” (ref. 145.023), “Skywalker” (ref. 376.0822) which Omega officially used in its last X-33 edition, “Jedi” (ref. 145.024) and of course, “The Holy Grail” (ref. 376.0822).
Given that Omega has been so successful issuing Special and Limited Editions, I think a “Chuck Maddox Limited Edition” will be the right thing to do, to give a little back in the memory of a single individual that gave so much to the collector’s community and to the legacy of Omega. I had been thinking on this for a long time, but the right tribute timepiece is not an easy one, the perfect option would be a “Holy Grail” reissue, but the 1045 movement is long gone, I don’t think Omega has some 2,000 forgotten 1045 in a drawer waiting to be discovered. As well using the new 9xxx movement would not be the right way.
The new Speedmaster Mark II could be a good option given Chuck’s reborn vintage Mark II was profusely covered in his posts but if you had read him.
Another one I thought of will require a little more work by from Omega. I refer to the new black ceramic case form the Speedmaster tribute to the Apollo 8 (covered here) enclosing cal. 1869. It would be great if Omega re-issues the dial from the Darth Vader Seamaster ref. 145.023 and put it in the new black ceramic case, giving birth to a new version of the Darth Vader. With this combination, Omega could hit two key Maddox’s trademarks, Speedmaster Moonwatch and the famous nickname issue by Maddox.
But to be honest, no matter if Omega decides or not to create a limited edition to honour Chuck Maddox, I think the biggest tribute to the man and his work resides in the respect from the watch community that every year takes time in the forums to pay respect every May and all of us that keep reading the Maddox’s legacy on web.”
A big thank you to Alex for his contribution for this Speedy Tuesday.